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How to Set Up Your Blog With WordPress

Hi there! Last time we talked about how to start your own self-hosted blog with Host Gator for an easy self-hosted WordPress site.

Now I’d like to explore how to make your blog as beautiful as you have always hoped for!

What I have learned with blogging is that if you don’t have a blog design you are proud of and love to look at, you won’t be inspired to write.

So lets get started on how to get your blog set up with a theme you will love.

SEE ALSO: How To Start a Self-Hosted DIY Blog

wordpress blog

Now, you will need to log in to your WordPress account. Follow the steps in the last post for how to get to your WordPress Dashboard, which should look like this:

Wordpress Dashboard

From here we will explore 2 options for creating a beautiful theme. First, you can choose themes from within WordPress itself! This is the easiest way to choose and install a theme. On your left toolbar, select “appearance” and then “themes”.  It will bring up a page that looks like this, with paid themes and free themes that you can easily install on your site.

wordpress themes

As you scroll through the themes, click on any one that catches your eye. Not from the brilliant imagery that many have, but for the style of the theme. You should have an idea of what you want – a grid style, a single column, double column, landing page, etc. When you find one you like, mouse over its image and click “Theme Details.” Which will pull up an information page about the theme.

theme details

From here you will see three selections at the bottom: Activate, Preview, and Demo. Click the “Demo” button to see a live preview of what the theme looks like. This allows you to scroll around and click on links within the theme. It will look something like this, and should open in a separate window or tab.

WPtheme demo

When you are finished, simply close the window or tab and you will return to the original Theme Information page. From there, click “Preview” to see what the theme would look like on your site, with your text and images. From here you can change the name of your site, the header image, the menu locations, and more. It is easy to use and doesn’t require any knowledge of coding. You can use the left hand side bar or click on the blue pencils within the site preview itself. If you love it, click Save & Activate!

Wp theme preview

If you love your WordPress theme- congratulations, you are done! You can now start blogging. However, if none of those themes fit your style I will walk you through another option to download and install a theme, and that is ThemeForest.


From the ThemeForest main page, select WordPress from the top menu. This will give you a drop-down box and you will select blog/magazine, which will take you to this results page:

themeforest wordpress

Since there are more than 1500 themes to choose from, you will want to narrow your selection a bit. On the left hand toolbar, you will see an option for “tags,” select that and a pop-up will appear with a few different tags to choose from. Select a few that you feel represent the type of blog or site you are looking to buy a theme for.

themeforest tags

From there your search will narrow. It may take some time to find a theme you like, since each listing presents with a logo rather than a preview of the page. However, these themes are very high quality and are worth taking your time to look through and find one you love. When you find one you want to take a look at, click the name and it will take you to a detailed page where you can look at comments, reviews, stills of the theme, and descriptions of what the theme offers.

theme page

If you want to see what the theme looks like, click “Live Preview.” This will open in a new window or tab and will allow you to click and scroll through the site, seeing different options for pages and layouts. When you are finished, simply close the window and return to the details screen. If you love the theme, click “buy now.” This will take you to a Checkout page, where you will be prompted to create an account.

create account

After you create an account, you will be prompted to input your personal and payment information. From there you can complete your purchase. You will be given a screen that looks like this, as well as a confirmation email. Click on the “downloads page” link in blue.

payment complete

From the downloads page you can download your theme directly to the hard drive of your computer. This will come as a zip file and will include everything you need to install into wordpress, as well as a license provided by the creator.

downloads page

After you have downloaded the theme information, you will want to install it onto your WordPress site. Go to your dashboard and select “appearance” from the  left sidebar. Follow the steps provided in the video below to install the theme:

After you have installed the theme, you can customize it in the same way that you were able to customize a theme downloaded directly from WordPress. You will have many options to explore as far as colors, fonts, and page styles go.

Congratulations! You have now installed a beautiful theme onto your website and are ready to create content! Check back next time for more information on how to create a successful blog.

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